Hellebores are here, and you won’t want to miss out on these varieties

We have raved about hellebores before.

But if any plant deserves extensive raving, it’s the hellebore (latin: helleborus).

What other cold-hearty perennial flowers early in March – a lot of times pushing their blooms through the snow and ice – has waxy, shiny, evergreen foliage that add texture to any garden, are deer resistant, self-seed quite readily, and have so many beautiful varieties to choose from?

Answer: none. Which is why every garden should feature this early spring bloomer.

Our favorites?

 

We also have more traditional varieties, like Helleborus ‘Royal Heritage’, which gets quite large when mature, and Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ with its bluish-green foliage and red stems, which takes a little longer to reach full maturity. (The slower growing varieties tend to be the more expensive varieties, because it literally takes years longer for growers to raise them to a size suitable for retail nurseries.)

Also hellebores are the best deer resistant alternative to hosta. They thrive in the same conditions, they have beautiful, textured foliage and as a bonus they bloom in March! The flowers often dry green on the plants, and the ornamental papery blooms remain – sometimes as long as August.

 

What are shrubs?

At Victoria Gardens we carry trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. And that’s how we think and talk about the plants in our nursery.

But every once in a while we are reminded that as a home gardener, that’s NOT how you talk.

When someone asks, “What’s a shrub?”

We reply, “It’s a bush.”

And they give us a sidelong glance, like, why didn’t you just say bush, then?

 This is an amazing shrub, called Vitex.

This is an amazing shrub, called Vitex.

I think when people start gardening, there’s “green stuff,” “bushes,” and “flowers.” As you learn more about plants, you can’t help but LOVE them more and more. And you begin to see subtle differences, not just between colors, but textures, form, and growth habits.

Below is a decoder ring, for the next time you are speaking to one of us, or if you want to increase the depth of your plant knowledge, or if you are just plain curious.

“What are these plant people talking about?”

 This explosion of color is made up of annuals

This explosion of color is made up of annuals

 

Plant definitions

Nursery speak translated to English

  • Perennial = Flowering plant that returns every year (but only blooms for part of the summer**)
  • Annual = Flowering plant that blooms all summer long (but dies at the end of the season*** – hey, you can’t have it all)
  • Tree = You know this one, don’t be silly
  • Shrub = Bush

But, from a horticultural standpoint, ‘bush’ and ‘shrub’ do not mean the same thing.

In horticulture*, “bush” is used to describe the shape of a plant, as in ‘forms a bush.’

“Shrub,” in horticulture, is defined as, “a plant which retains structure above ground year round, which cannot be split or divided because the growth is coming from one set of roots. (Some shrubs can be considered small trees, but will still be defined as shrubs.)”

Now a shrub can be as tiny as a dwarf ‘Tom Thumb’ cotoneaster, which only gets about 12 inches wide or a shrub can grow 8 to 10 feet tall like a lilac.

 Another shrub, "RedStar" Hypericum

Another shrub, "RedStar" Hypericum

 "RedStar" Hypericum: grows to 30"x30", full sun

"RedStar" Hypericum: grows to 30"x30", full sun

We have other confusing industry terms.

Victoria will be speaking to a client and she will explain that she will bring the plant material on such-and-such a day. The client will ask, “What’s plant material?”

“Plant material is…plants.” And they give her a sidelong glance, like, why didn’t you just say plants, then?

Or she’ll say “I think you need some woody plants in the foundation planting near the house.”

“What are woody plants?”

And she replies, “Trees and shrubs.”****

See beginning of article.

Just kidding!

Visit and be inspired!

*As long as we’re defining things…”Horticulture is the science and art of producing, improving, marketing, and using fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants. It differs from botany and other plant sciences in that horticulture incorporates both science and aesthetics.” – American Society for Horticultural Science

**Some perennials have LONG blooming periods–some from May to September–but they are the exception, not the rule.

***Annuals bloom all summer long and complete their lifecycle within one season. Their job is to produce seeds, so they produce a lot of flowers again and again to complete their reproductive mission. Annuals give you a big blooming-bang for your buck, even though they die when the frost comes in fall.

***”Woody plants”–trees and shrubs–usually have bark as a defining feature.

 Another spectacular shrub, 'Pearl  Glam '  callicarpa ', grows 5'x5', full sun

Another spectacular shrub, 'Pearl Glamcallicarpa', grows 5'x5', full sun

A note about our nursery (if you’ve never visited):

Great garden design is accomplished with a tapestry of different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Visit our plant nursery in Rosendale, NY this weekend and feast your eyes on flowers, trees, and shrubs that will not only thrive in the Hudson Valley, but will also inspire you to take a fresh look at your outdoor spaces.

We lay the nursery out in areas by what conditions they need: deer resistant shade, deer resistant full sun, wet-tolerant plants, etc. We know this makes for a better shopping experience, because the plants you see together at the nursery can be planted together in the same garden bed once you get them home.

There’s no heartbreak–realizing that the two plants you picked out can’t survive in your shady front garden. (As professional landscapers, we’ve gardened in Ulster county for over 30 years, so believe us, we know what those conditions are!)

Our rock-top nursery is located on Cottekill Road, off of Rt 213 between Rosendale and High Falls. We are up on the hill, and when people step off the back porch into the nursery, they often say, “Wow. I had no idea this was back here.”

We know. It’s so much more than you can see from the road!

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) ‘Hearts of Gold’ at Victoria Gardens in Rosendale, NY

The heart shaped leaves of this Redbud variety are a dazzling golden green. In the fall the leaves turn a striking orange/yellow. We love this tree planted at the woodland’s edge, where the striking light foliage stands out against the dark forest behind it.

 

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) Hearts of Gold at Victoria Gardens in Rosendale, NY

 

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) Heart of Gold at Victoria Gardens in Rosendale, NY

 

Eastern-Redbud-(Cercis-canadensis) at Victoria Gardens in Rosendale, NY

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern Redbud Growing Zones: 4-9
Mature Height: 20-30 ft.
Mature Width: 25-35 ft.
Sunlight: Full or Partial
Soil Conditions: Very Adaptable, Black Walnut tolerant
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Blooms: small pink blooms on bare branches in the spring
Fall color: Golden yellow

A superb, underused plant with unique, early spring bloom. The vivid spring bloom cover the bare branches of mature trees, giving them a dramatic, velvety look.

But the real appeal of this understory tree are the heart shaped leaves. Available in deep purple, deep green and golden green, the eastern redbud adds character, texture and structure to a garden bed.

River Birch (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’)

‘Heritage’ River Birch(Betula nigra ‘Heritage’)

‘Heritage’River Birch ‘Heritage’ Growing Zones: 4-9
Mature Height: 40-50 ft.
Mature Width: 25-30 ft.
Sunlight: Full or Partial
Soil Conditions: Very wet tolerant, clay tolerant
Bark: very ornamental in maturity
Fall color: yellow

As is implied in the name, river birch are well-suited for planting along river banks, and in other spots which can flood for weeks at a time, but they also thrive in normal soil conditions.

One of our best-selling trees!

Why we love it: This native tree is elegant and performs better in our area than its European cousin. Its bark is not quite as showy, but its form is lovely.

We love the ‘Heritage’ variety because of its glossier leaves, but it really shines in a winter garden too, because of its attractive silhouette and exfoliating reddish brown bark. The texture of the bark becomes more dramatic as the specimen matures. The dark outer bark peels, exposing salmon color underneath.

Betula nigra is fast growing, and the multi-branch, clumping river birch is graceful and elegant. We especially like the sophisticated look of the multi-trunk river birch planted in a grove.

 

Unique tree specimens that will thrive in the Hudson Valley

Stewatia pseudocamllia (Japanese Stewartia)

Why we love it: The dramatic exfoliating bark and great fall foliage.

Hardiness Zones: 4 to 7
Height: 20 ft to 40 ft Spread: 20 ft to 40 ft
Form: pyramidal/oval in youth – more rounded in maturity
Type: deciduous tree
Annual Growth Rate: 6 to 12 inches
Flowers: White with yellow center Blooms in July

Prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Soil should be moist and ideally acidic. Dry soil will limit this trees growth. The real appeal of this tree is its stunning exfoliating bark. When branches reach 2″ or 3″ in diameter, the gray, gold, and brown pealing bark is a real stand-out as a winter interest. Plus the Stewartia has fantastic fall foliage.

 

  

  

Fagus sylvatica ‘Purple Fountain’ – purple weeping beech

  

Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)

Why we love it: This native tree blooms when no other tree is blooming in summer, and with the panicles still on the tree, the fall foliage will knock your socks off.

Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
Height: 25 ft to 30 ft Spread: 20 ft to 25 ft
Form: pyramidal
Type: deciduous tree
Annual Growth Rate: 8 to 15 inches
Flowers: White Blooms Mid- to Late Summer

Prefers full sun to partial shade. Can grow in acidic, infertile soil.. The primary attraction of this small deciduous tree is the drooping clusters of fragrant, white blossoms are borne on 4″ to 10″ long panicles. Flowers open over a three to four week period, and then the panicles remain on the tree while the leaves turn yellow, orange and red for a spectacular fall show. The persistent fruit remains on the tree through winter.

 

Syringa x ‘Boomerang’ – purple lilac tree (This matching pair is perfect for an entry way.)

 

Sciadopitys verticillata (Japanese Umbrella Pine)

Why we love it: Long glossy needles and slow to grow, this tree is like no other evergreen.
Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
Height: 20 ft to 30 ft Spread: 15 ft to 20 ft
Form: pyramidal
Type: evergreen tree
Annual Growth Rate: 6 inches
Flowers: None

Prefers full sun to partial shade. Likes moist, acidic, well-drained soil. Slow growing tree, but worth the wait.
Long glossy needles give this tree a distinct look, different than any other evergreen.

 

 

 

Cutleaf Japanese Maple – 6′ to 10′ tall and wide – Zone 5 -A dwarf, mounded, small tree with a cascading and weeping habit. Also called a Threadleaf maple, the leaves are finely dissected (ribbon-like), and comes in many different varieties – too many to name! Visit the nursery in Rosendale, and fall in love with one! Full sun to part shade.

  

 

Q&A Which annuals are deer candy? And are there any annuals the deer will leave alone?

Q: Dear Victoria,

The deer seem to eat my annual containers like candy! Are there any annuals the deer will leave alone?

Help!

A: There are quite a few options for deer resistant annuals, then there are some varieties that they mostly leave alone, but nibble on occasionally, and there are, as you say, “deer candy.”

Everyone has different anecdotal evidence for one variety being left alone while another is always eaten, but after almost more than decades as a professional landscaper in Ulster county – these are my findings:

Deer candy:

(You can plant these if you are deer free, protected by a fence or if you are willing to spray deer repellant. We carry an all natural, locally-produced deer spray that smells like peppermint. Yeah, we love it!)

  • Sweet potato vine
  • Coleus
  • Oxalis
  • Impatients
  • Fuchsias

 

Annuals that deer mostly leave alone:

  • Zinneas
  • Marigolds
  • Angelonia
  • Snapdragons
  • Cosmos
  • Fragrant petunias
  • Persian shield
  • Geraniums

 

 

Deer resistant:

  • Annual Grasses
  • Mint
  • Salvia
  • Agastache
  • Verbena bonariensis
  • Cleome
  • Lantana
  • Euphorbia “Diamond frost”

 

We have a huge selection of annuals in stock, so come in this weekend and pick out some all-summer color for your containers and gardens.

If you battle the deer, don’t worry we’ve got you covered!

And if you have questions about many of the other varieties we carry, just ask one of the master gardeners who work in the store -they can help you find the right combination for your planter: sun, shade, deer-resitant, drought-tolerant – we have the perfect annuals for you.

Happy planting!

Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’

Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’

Dawn Redwood Growing Zones: 4-8
Mature Height: 40-50 ft.
Mature Width: 20-30 ft.
Sunlight: Full or Partial
Soil Conditions: Very Adaptable
Drought Tolerance: Good
Fall color: Orange and yellow

The Dawn Redwood tree, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, is a deciduous conifer, with soft needle-like leaves that look like evergreens, but are bright green in the spring and brilliant orange/red in the fall. The needles are then shed in winter.

Dawn Redwood trees are a very interesting–one of the few deciduous conifers in the world.

It is feathery pyramidal in form with a straight, fluted trunk. It grows very fast to 40’ and can grow to 70’. Dawn Redwoods are considered by many to be the Fastest Growing Conifer.

  • Plant away from foundations and plan for it eventually being a very large tree.(Under ideal conditions they have been reported to grow up to 5 feet per year.)
  • Adaptable to almost any soil (except desert sand) can withstand both moderate flooding and drought. Dawn Redwoods can even grow in standing water.
  • Great when planted alone as an ornamental tree or in groupings. A great tree for borders and fence lines. Grows consistently into a pyramidal form and makes an attractive shade tree.
  • Once very hard-to-find, but now we have found reliable growers. At Victoria Gardens, we keep these lovely trees in stock throughout the year and we use them in plantings when ever we get a chance!

 

Dawn-Redwood-Metasequoia-glyptostroboides-‘Gold-Rush’ at Victoria Gardens in Rosendale, NY

 

 

Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’ at Victoria Gardens in Rosendale, NY

Happy, Happy Herb Boxes

 

Growing herbs, especially in easily accessible pots near your grill or kitchen door is one of the true luxuries of summer. Grabbing a fist full of fresh oregano or thyme to throw into a dish in progress will make you happy! But there are some unusual edibles we’d like you to consider this summer:

 

Corsica mint

Corsica mint is one of our favorites, because it is so so fragrant. When you pet the tiny, densely packed foliage, it releases a heavenly, minty fragrance. We recommend you plant a full pot of it near a lounge chair for relaxation and aromatherapy purposes, but it can also be planted in the ground as a steppable ground cover. Use it in iced tea or sprinkle the little leaves over fresh greens.

Another one of our favorites is French Sorrel. You need to harvest the leaves before the plant bolts (throws up its flowers) and you can harvest it multiple times through the season. The baby leaves add a lemony bite to fresh salads or a wonderful herb and aromatic to throw in with fish dishes, but French Sorrel soup is the best use of this leafy green!

French Sorrel

Chocolate mint can be used to infuse milk for homemade ice cream, but chocolate mint mojitos are also a crowd pleaser. Mints have a tendency to take over in the garden, so they are the perfect herb to keep in a container.

Chocolate mint

 

Cold hardy, perennial herbs—like mint, sage and thyme—can overwinter in pots outside, but more tender herbs—like rosemary—need to be brought inside in the fall or planted a new each spring. Pots of herbs perform best in full sun, but no fertilizers are needed. Most herbs thrive in lean soil and like to dry out in between watering. That said, they can perform just fine in a mixed container if you want to throw an herb in with blooming annuals.

Sage

 

Rosemary

 

Lovage

 

Golden Oregano

 

Variegated Oregano

 

Salad Burnet

 

Sweet Marjoram

 

We also love the idea of an all edible mixed pot. Here are a few edible flowering plants to brighten up your grill side herb boxes: violets, pansies, and violas. The small, delicate flowers can be used to decorate desserts or garnish any main dish. Nasturtium is a prolific annual with red, yellow and orange blossoms. The flower and the foliage are both pretty and peppery. They make a spicy addition to salads or fish dishes. The thick, juicy petals of Tuberous Begonia taste like lemon water. They can be tossed into salads or drinks for a colorful, tart crunch. You don’t see these commonly used, maybe because most people feel the flowers are too beautiful to eat!